Orioles utility man Tim Hulett required stitches to repair a cut inside his mouth after he was hit with a thrown ball on Sunday, but he was available to play in yesterday's season opener against the Texas Rangers at Camden Yards.
Hulett was injured when he ran into the path of a ball thrown by teammate Cal Ripken. He left the field with his nose and mouth bloodied, but precautionary X-rays showed that the injuries were superficial.
"It looks a lot worse than it is," Hulett said yesterday. "It doesn't even hurt. I can play, but I hope I don't have to."
The way things turned out, his services were not necessary. He will have today off to recuperate before the Orioles complete the two-game series tomorrow night.
Mercedes staying in lineup
The Orioles face another left-hander, Charlie Leibrandt, tomorrow night, but Oates said he will go with the same right fielder. Luis Mercedes singled and walked yesterday, and will be back in the starting lineup for Game 2.
"I liked what I saw today," Oates said. "He had a single and a walk. He'll be back there."
Oates will not speculate when Rule V draftee Sherman Obando might get his first start. He said last week that he would give most of the early-season playing time to Mercedes and left-handed hitting Chito Martinez and pick his spots for Obando.
President Bill Clinton visited the Orioles clubhouse before the game to meet the team. It turned out to be a memorable experience for manager Johnny Oates.
"Opening Day is always exciting for me," he said. "President Clinton even used my bathroom. He came in and the first thing he said was, 'Where's the john?' I said, 'I'm right here.' "
No BP for Clinton
There were rumors early yesterday that President Clinton would take some cuts in the batting cage before the game, but he stuck to the traditional routine of meeting the teams and throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
"He might as well take some cuts," first baseman David Segui said jokingly. "He's going to cut everything else."
Davis switches numbers
Glenn Davis, who is trying to get back to the numbers he produced in Houston, has changed his uniform number to the one he wore while with the Astros.
The Orioles first baseman has switched from 37, which he wore the past two years, to 27. He didn't get that number originally because it was being worn by ex-Orioles pitcher Dave Johnson.
Brady's opening acts
Brady Anderson had three hits, but that's nothing new for him on Opening Day. He also had that many for the Red Sox in 1988, the year he was traded to the Orioles.
Anderson is hitting .563 (9-for-16) in Opening Day games.
Short work for Poole
Left-hander Jim Poole raised some eyebrows at the end of spring training when he gave up three game-winning home runs, but he came on to face Rangers first baseman Rafael Palmeiro in the ninth inning and retired him on a routine grounder to second base.
"I was never really worried about that," Oates said, "because the three home runs were to guys he wouldn't be facing if the game's on the line [during the regular season]."
Right-hander Alan Mills also was coming off a tough outing at the end of the exhibition season, but he pitched a decent 2 2/3 innings, giving up just a bases-empty homer to Juan Gonzalez in the eighth.
Sticking to baseball
Center fielder Mike Devereaux said he was aware that the Rev. Jesse Jackson was outside Camden Yards staging a protest of baseball's minority hiring practices.
"I knew what was going on, but my main concern was baseball," said Devereaux.
Asked if minority hiring was a topic of much discussion in the clubhouse, Devereaux said, "We don't talk about that a lot. We try not to get a lot of controversy between us [as players]. Our thing is to win games."
Although two Rangers, Gonzalez and Dean Palmer, each hit a pair of home runs, it was Bill Ripken who got most of the media attention in the clubhouse after the game.
"What did Billy do?" someone screamed from the other side of the room.
"Nothing," said Ripken, who was 0-for-4 in his first game against his former teammates. "There's Juan Gonzalez over there -- two home runs. There's Dean Palmer over there -- two home runs."
Shortly thereafter, Ripken's post-game news conference was over.
Gonzalez closes in
Gonzalez now has nine multi-home run games, one shy of the Texas record. Larry Parrish and Toby Harrah each hit more than one homer in 10 games.
The scary thing about Gonzalez is he's only 23 years old.
Love that park
The homer-happy Rangers are getting to like Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Although they lost the season series, 7-5, a year ago, the Rangers won four of the six games played here, while the Orioles won five of six in Texas.
Yesterday's game marked the first time since July 26, 1987 that two Rangers hit two home runs in the same game. Bob Brower and Pete Incaviglia did the damage the last time, in Cleveland.
Love that lineup
Kevin Kennedy has managed only one major-league game, but he has already learned one thing about his Rangers lineup that managers around the American League have known for a while.
"You cannot pitch around our lineup," said Kennedy, who once played in the Orioles' minor-league system. "Anybody in our lineup can hurt you."